We have already looked at the word queber, the most common word for grave, or a burial place, in the Old Testament, and have shown that it is not the same as Sheol. As previously stated, of the sixty-four times it is used it is rendered "grave" thirty-four times, "sepulcher" twenty-six times, and "burying place" four times. Two other words that are used for a burial place in the Old Testament are Shah-ghath and Qeburah.
Shah-ghath: This word is translated "grave" once (Job 33:22). It is rendered "ditch" twice, "destruction" twice, "corruption" four times, and "pit" thirteen times. This word speaks of something that man can dig (Ps. 94:13; Prov. 26:27) and is used in reference to a hole into which a man can fall (Ps. 7:15; Prov. 26:27), and a hole used as a trap (Ps. 35:7). It is a place where the physical body suffers destruction through the corruption of decay (Ps. 16:10; 49:9; 55:23). The basic meaning is that of a hole of some kind that man digs for a particular purpose. Generally, it is used of a burial place, i.e., a grave.
Qeburah: This word is related to queber and means a grave or burial place. It is used of various types of graves and is found fourteen times and is translated "grave" four times, "sepulcher" five times, "burial" four times, and "burying place" one time.
In the New Testament we find three more words that refer to the grave, taphos, mnema, and mnemeion.
Taphos is used seven times and is translated "sepulcher" six of those and "tomb" once.
Mnema is used seven times, being rendered "tomb" twice, "grave" once, and "sepulcher" four times.
Mnemeion is the most common word for grave in the New Testament. It is used forty-two times, five times as "tomb," twenty-nine times as "sepulcher," and eight times as "grave."
The grave is a place where the physical remains of those who have died are deposited. It can be a hole in the ground, a cave, or a specially prepared vault or other place used for interment. The soul and spirit having departed the body at death, there is no consciousness of life in the grave. It is a place of corruption that serves to point out man's need of a Savior. The soul of man lives on after physical death and will always remain in a conscious state of being. The unsaved go to Sheol/Hades to await their resurrection unto condemnation while the redeemed go to heaven to await their resurrection unto life (see Jn. 5:25-29).
The Grave - Practical Application for today
A proper understanding of what the Bible teaches about Hell, Sheol, Hades, and the Grave dispels confusion over what happens to the soul at the time of physical death and guards against being led astray by those teaching the false doctrines of soul-sleep, eradication of the soul, the universal reconciliation of mankind, and the annihilation of the lost. All of these erroneous doctrines are of Satan, used of him to dishearten believers and blind the lost to the reality of the cost of spurning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our thinking, and therefore our life on a day-to-day basis, is influenced by what we believe. While some of the false doctrines mentioned above are diametrically opposed to each other, they still have one thing in common. They subvert the truth of the immortality of the soul.
Questions or comments for Dr. Bedore should be addressed to him directly at: Berean Bible Institute, P.O. Box 587, Slinger, WI 53086, or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” - Spurgeon